The proportion of U.S. Hispanics with college degrees in 2009 was 19.2 percent, far lower than the 41.1 percent figure for the population as a whole, which indicates an alarming lack of progress.

The situation is shown in detail by The College Completion Agenda Progress Report 2011: Latino Edition, released Friday in Miami by the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center.

The report shows that a very limited proportion of Latinos go to college and even fewer earn degrees.

All that in spite of the fact that young Hispanics make up the largest minority group in K-12 schools and is the fastest-growing student segment, according to the College Board, which represents more than 5,000 universities in the United States.

"It's a very worrying situation, very serious, but it can be fixed" because the reason for it all is the lack of information among Hispanic families, Dr. Eduardo J. Padron, president of Miami-Dade College where the report was presented, told Efe.

"College completion is a national imperative," he said. "It is the key to improving our nation's economy. Each additional person with a college credential has a significant multiplier effect on the economy."

Latino families "have to make getting a college education for their children a priority, not buying a new car or making a trip to Africa," he said.

But the way things stand, he said, only a small number of Hispanic high school graduates go to college, and a large number of those "often drop out for a lack of funds and their need to get a job."

To correct these errors, a College Board panel has formulated 10 recommendations with which it hopes to ensure that by 2025 at least 55 percent of Americans ages 25-34 have college degrees.

Speaking in similar terms to Padron was former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who said at the presentation that "the quality of education will determine the futures of our students and our nation."

For his part, the president of the College Board, Gaston Caperton, noted the impossibility of the United States becoming "No. 1 again in college completion unless we commit ourselves to giving these students the support they need to achieve their full potential."

Caperton said that the study evaluates Latino students' chances of achieving success and how that will directly influence the progress of the American economy.

The education of Latinos in the United States has traditionally been characterized by high dropout rates and a low index of students completing their college studies.

In 2009, just 19.2 percent of Latinos between 25 and 34 had a university degree, while among Asians the percentage was 69.1 percent, with 48.7 percent for non-Hispanic whites and 29.4 percent for African Americans.

"Those who don't go to college will remain in a cycle of poverty for the rest of their days," Padron said.

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